Even as Illinois runs ever shorter on cash, the board of education is asking for $730 million increase in state funding.
Illinois' superintendent of schools is well aware of the state's financial strain. Christopher Koch has been in charge as over the past several years, the state has failed to come through with all the money it's supposed to give to meet local district's basic needs.
But, Koch says, "education is the smartest investment we can make in the economic future of our state."
He and state board of education members are asking lawmakers to fully fund that minimum level of per pupil spending. That would cost the state an extra $556 million, and it would still mean Illinois is spending far less than what an advisory panel recommends.
The board also wants more money for early childhood education, including a program to held kids with special needs and poor children ineligible for a federal subsidy. It's asking for money to help meet increasing bilingual education needs, and to help cover costs associated with the new "PARCC" standardized testing.
New Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, promised to invest more in schools. But he's given no insight into how he'll do that, especially given that Illinois is taking in less money because the income tax rolled back at the start of the New Year.